When a divorce involves minor children, issues arise that require parents to balance the best interests of their children above their own. The best interest factors as determined by Michigan statute and case law are:
MCL 722.23 “Best interests of the child” defined:
As used in this act, “best interests of the child” means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. A court may not consider negatively for the purposes of this factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child’s other parent.
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
What do you do when both parents have concerns about where the child will live and how visitation and parenting time will work? Who makes decisions for the minor children? Among the concerns commonly expressed by parents are the following:
- How does a court decide custody?
- Can the parties make their own decisions without court intervention?
- What is joint legal custody?
- What is joint physical custody?
- Is there a certain age when a minor child can decide for him or herself where to live?
- What are reasonable expectations for child care?
- How do holidays and vacations work?
Daniel Marchese has substantial experience advising and representing clients with child custody, visitation and parenting time issues. He represents men and women throughout Oakland and Macomb counties in the design, enforcement and modification of custody, visitation and parenting time orders. He has worked extensively with Friend of the Court in Michigan, advising and representing clients in mediation, hearings and divorce hearings and trials.
Visitation and parenting time issues often involve where and when the children will spend their time, including the following:
- School breaks
Since having more overnights of parenting time can also affect child support payments, child visitation disputes often surround this issue.
Experienced Rochester, Oakland County Child Custody, Visitation And Parenting Time Lawyer
As an experienced Oakland County child custody lawyer and parenting time attorney, Mr. Marchese also understands other visitation issues which can arise before or after your divorce, including the following:
- School choice issues
- Neglect of a child
- Parent relocating (especially out of state) or change of domicile
- Drug or alcohol problems (or other issues that may require supervised parenting time)
- Former spouse’s new significant other who may negatively impact a minor child
- Sick, disabled or emotionally challenged child
- Sick or disabled parent
If there is a significant change of circumstances, you may be entitled to modify the divorce decree regarding custody or visitation and parenting time. This, however, is a difficult standard to prove.
Child support is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Even when parents are not fighting over support, they often have questions about how support is calculated, what income and assets can be included in the calculations, and whether they can change child support after a court order has been issued. They wonder whether support paid to the other parent might factor into child support considerations.
Issues that arise in child support matters include, but are not limited to:
- The effect of both parents’ incomes on child support payments
- What income is included in the calculations
- What are reasonable child care provisions
- Which party pays for health insurance for the child
- Whether there is any flexibility in the guidelines
- What happens if child support payments are not made
- Who is responsible for enforcement of child support orders
- Whether child support awards can be changed
- Who gets a tax deduction for a child